25 March 2010

The Spirit Level

Written by Published in Latest books

You might think books about inequality could err on the ideological side...

The Spirit LevelHowever, The Spirit Level, the collaborative result of over fifty years of research by Professors Richard Wilkinson and Kate Pickett, emphatically does not fall into that trap.

The authors’ extensive enquiries into the social and economic determinants behind issues such as life expectancy, illness, mental health, drug use, obesity, education, teenage pregnancy and prison show that we are not so much affected by how wealthy a society is, but how equal it is.

With illustrative cartoons, thoughtful quotes and snappily titled sections and sub-sections, combined with tables, graphs, and diagrams backing up the statistics, The Spirit Level never overwhelms. As evidence piles up that the scale of income differences has a profound effect on how we relate to one another and how an individual’s well-being is affected, it becomes clear that the signposts Wilkinson and Pickett are laying out for us – the contrast between the material success and social failure of many rich countries – is intended to guide us towards grasping the urgent need to create a better society for us now.

The steps recommended in later chapters on how to achieve that transformation, on the importance of quality social relationships, on sustainability and cooperation, should be staple diets on school curriculums. A significant, seminal book that deserves to make a sustained impact for many years to come. 

The Spirit Level: Why Equality is Better for Everyone by Richard Wilkinson and Kate Pickett (Penguin) £9.99

 

 

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